Subnational contextual influences on political trust
Ulbig, Stacy Gwenn
Alford, John R.
Doctor of Philosophy
The primary objective of this research is to address a basic question: What types of governmental structures serve to enhance the public's trust in government? It develops and tests a theory linking local political characteristics to citizen attitudes toward government. These relationships are analyzed by (1) collecting original survey data on citizen attitudes toward local governments and information on local political characteristics, and (2) using multi-level analytical techniques to investigate how the context created by various governmental structures and political realities impacts the political attitudes of residents. The research presented here unites much of the political, social, and psychological research on political trust by presenting a model of the attitude based on individual-level judgments about the policies, processes, and people of local government as well as the political structures and realities that surround these individuals. This study also provides insight into how contextual variables can contribute to an understanding of individual-level attitudes by showing how a person's political surroundings can operate to shape their feelings of trust in the government.